The Colombian government Tuesday rejected requests by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC, to create “special peace zones,” saying the country “will not be divided.”
“We are not in this process to divide the country, nor to hand over ungovernable territories. Our Constitution is not to replace the (negotiating) table. Instead, it speaks of a single and indivisible Colombia,” said General Jorge Enrique Mora, member of the negotiating team for the government of Colombia in the current peace talks in Havana, Cuba.
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The general’s comments come in response to a petition made by the FARC Monday asking the government to make certain security guarantees following the signing of a final peace deal, including the demilitarization of certain guerrilla zones.
“The basic condition of safety will result from the necessary demilitarization and recognition (by the government) of the ability to disarm ourselves ... through built plans and measures agreed upon between the two parties,” said FARC member Ricardo Tellez.
He also requested that the government guarantee the FARC and its members be recognized as a political organization, after a peace deal is signed and they lay down their arms.
The Colombian government and the FARC have been undergoing peace negotiations since 2012. The process seeks an end to over 50 years of armed conflict involving guerrilla groups, paramilitaries, state security forces and drug traffickers that has left some 220,000 dead and 6 million displaced or disappeared.
The two sides have made some landmark agreements including one on transitional justice, which would grant amnesty to those who committed war crimes if they agree to cooperate with the peace process.
One point which the FARC has been sticking to is for greater action to stop paramilitary violence, which continues to ravage the country. The guerrilla group reiterated the call Sunday, saying eliminating paramilitarism is an “ethical and political imperative” in the peace process.
The Colombian government and FARC recently agreed to change the format of negotiations during the final leg of peace talks in an effort to speed up negotiations and reach an agreement for the official deadline of March 23, 2016.
As the government and the guerrilla group inch closer to a final peace deal, they have agreed to invite the United Nations and UNASUR to monitor a potential bilateral cease-fire, which could begin as early as December.
In a separate press conference Tuesday, FARC delegates expressed their support for their comrades imprisoned across the country who launched a hunger strike earlier this month, demanding that injured jailed members be released and given medical treatment.
According to the guerrillas, several of their comrades have been suffering health problems or were injured in the middle of conflict upon being detained and have not been able to recover due to the lack of medical attention. At least 300 guerrillas in 13 prisons across the country are participating in the hunger strike.
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